FEATURE : Bengaluru Gets Touchy, Goa Feels The Pinch

Saturday, 28 January 2017|DC
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The stupidity of some during Bengaluru FC’s 1-2 loss to Churchill Brothers casts a bad impression on the game.

Until now, the fighting spirit of the Goan teams – whether to still remain a landmark in Indian football’s map or their never-say-die attitude during matches – was much cherished. The contribution of those teams - Salgaocar, Sporting Goa, Dempo, Churchill Brothers and FC Goa recently - has kept the ball rolling in the region’s sandy beaches at a time when Indian football was decaying into turmoil in the last few years. But Friday’s events once again highlight how the stupidity of some, in terms of their unacceptable, immature and childish behaviour, can cast a lasting bad impression in the eyes of the entire country.

This time, it was in the form of Churchill’s assistant coach Alfred Fernandes, who appears to have provoked Bengaluru FC’s John Johnson into reacting back during their 2-1 I-League upset of the defending champions. Johnson, whose team had conceded the lead through Chesterpoul Lyngdoh, was understandably a frustrated man. Attempting to even speak to him after that red card for a rash challenge on the hosts’ Richard Costa is like a matador not moving after showing a red cape to a charging bull. TV grabs show Johnson shoving the coach, and Fernandes later said he only enquired why Johnson made that tackle. Zinedine Zidane was guilty of headbutting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup. What they don’t tell you is Materazzi’s words on Zidane’s mother and sister. Add fuel to a fire and ask why you got burnt.

Johnson on his part should have avoided two things that night – the tackle first of all and then losing his cool. In other times, the Englishman comes off as a gentle guy who is the chieftain of mischief in the group. To see a composed guy like that lose his cool is indeed painful but not as perplexing as Fernandes’ other actions after Johnson was kept away.

He alleged Juan Gonzalez, BFC’s Spanish defender, kicked him. While that is condemnable, Fernandes’ reaction, where he lay on the ground as if unconscious for almost five minutes for a simple push, is laughable. Those final moments in the game made up for goodFriday night entertainment. Only if we had the popcorn and coke ready.

The crowd though were waiting for it, or so it seems. Seconds later, bottles were just flying around on top of BFC coach Albert Roca’s head. Some home fans were aiming for Johnson apparently but he conveniently left the scene. Fortunately, Roca didn’t fake a fall like coach Khalid Jamil did two years ago at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium during his Mumbai FC days. Only he can wear a bandage on the head after being ‘hit’ by an empty plastic bottle. Bottles and Bengaluru FC just don’t get along, do they?

Like how the entire evening they struggled to penetrate Churchill’s bottle-tight defence. The only goal they managed was from the spot. At other times, they had moments in the box but failed to make them magical. Churchill too had six permanent defenders after they took the lead in the 53rd minute. Both were unnecessary goals resulting from defensive blunders that creeped up again this week after the 1-2 loss to East Bengal last week.

Johnson and Gonzalez are guilty of losing focus during key moments. While Johnson could be forgiven for last week’s gaffe, which led to Robin Singh’s winner, the way he lunged to displace Costa is not something you would expect from a man of his calibre.

After showing promise with three back-to-back wins, BFC appear to have lost their identity. They enjoy lion’s share of possession but turn into scardey-cats in front of goal. Pin-point long balls to wingers Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri are fine, but the fans only get to see their individual merit in controlling the ball with a brilliant first touch. What about converting those into crosses and goals then? There were plenty of those against Shillong Lajong, Chennai City FC and Mumbai FC but of late, they are just stuck outside the box.

The Blues then saw red and that took the game away from them. In such a morale-hit squad, there’s little you can expect in the AFC Champions League playoff tie against Jordan’s Al-Wehdat on Jan 31. Their title defence also appears in shambles but let’s get to that later.

Shameful scenes nonetheless at the Tilak Maidan in a repeat of a final FC Goa sorely lost two seasons ago against Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League. Then too, Dattaraj Salgaocar played the victim card by saying CFC’s Elano Blumer assaulted him but the ISL disciplinary committee found no evidence supporting the claim.

Let’s see what the I-League’s disciplinary committee and the match commissioner have to say about Friday’s events.

Photo Credit : I-League Media